Brookville, N.Y. -- As the legend goes, each Christmas, Santa Claus makes his list and checks it twice to keep track of who is naughty and who is nice. But a professor at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University contends the guy in the red suit should work on his own behavior.
(PressZoom) - Brookville, N.Y. -- As the legend goes, each Christmas, Santa Claus makes his list and checks it twice to keep track of who is naughty and who is nice.
But a professor at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University contends the guy in the red suit should work on his own behavior.
"No More Bullies at the North Pole," a new book by Dr. George Giuliani, professor of special education at C.W. Post, examines the popular 1964 animated television special, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," and the prominence of bullying in the tale.
"Many people think of it as a cute little story about a reindeer who overcomes some obstacles in his life and eventually helps Santa Claus guide his team of reindeer on a very foggy Christmas Eve night and then becomes a hero," said Dr. Giuliani. "But there is a parallel between Rudolph and most special education or exceptional children, and every child in the world who has ever been mocked or bullied."
The TV program, created by Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment and based on the 1939 book by Robert May, tells the story of Rudolph, a reindeer at the North Pole who was born with a physical disability -- his nose glows red. Because of this perceived impairment, Rudolph is excluded from Santa's team of reindeer, the other reindeer are told not to play with him and he is teased and bullied. He is also rejected by his father, Donner, one of the members of Santa's team.
"Rudolph is exceptional, just as children with any emotional, learning or physical disability are," said Dr. Giuliani. "With Santa's approval, Rudolph was treated unfairly and consistently offended, mocked and bullied by others."
“Also found in the story are incidents of sexism, favoritism, exclusion and hypocritical behavior, among other negative behavior,” said Dr. Giuliani. For example, one of Santa's elves, Hermey, is told he can't follow his own dreams of becoming a dentist because elves are required to make toys. Toys that are broken or not quite perfect are deemed to be "misfits" and are sent to live on an island away from everyone else. In fact, the word "misfit" is used a total of 27 times in the TV special, which has an air time of less than one hour, Dr. Giuliani notes.
"The story has a happy ending, but Rudolph has to suffer immensely to be accepted," Dr. Giuliani said.
His book, written as a guide for parents, teachers and librarians, imagines a scenario where Mrs. Claus (called Momma in the television program) is able to point out the injustices at the North Pole to Santa and help him change his ways. This book also has a very happy ending.
"There are many wrong messages sent to children in the TV program," Dr. Giuliani said. "But with some guidance, children can think in a more kind and fair way."
Dr. Giuliani is a New York State licensed clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist. He has been in private practice for 41 years. A New York State certified elementary school teacher, he has taught regular and special education classes. At C.W. Post he has been the director of student teaching for the Undergraduate School of Education, chairman of the Department of Elementary Education, chairman of the Department of Special Education and Literacy and dean of the Undergraduate School of Education. He is the co-author of "Finding Your Best Place to Live in America," "Mating: How to Select an Ideal Mate for You" and "Why Liberal Thinking Changed America: The Evolution of Justice in Our Nation's History."
"No More Bullies at the North Pole" is published by CGRC Publishers of America. For more information, visit learningaboutbullying.com.
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